|Drink the Kool-Aid
|But you WANT to stay!
|Cults of personality
Maum Meditation is a religious practice founded by Woo Myung (1952–).[note 1] The word Maum is from the Korean word for memory, "마음" (ma-eum).:224-226 The organization also goes by many other names, in English-speaking countries it usually goes by the form of "[City Name] Meditation", e.g. Berkeley Meditation.
Woo Myung teaches a syncretic religion (though it claims that it is not a religion:266-267) that primarily melds aspects of Buddhism, Christianity and indigenous Korean religion.:46,57,75,77,106-107,111,129-131,155,158-159,170,172,247-267
Although not all details are known, the final goal of Maum Meditation is to "subtract" the so-called false mind. In order to achieve that, one must imagine oneself falling into a black hole or dying. Maum teaches that we must lose attachment to various things, family, memories, and the image of oneself. There are eight levels; each level is one attachment that needs to be abandoned.
After all seven levels there is a culmination process that requires travel to Maum's camps in Argentina or South Korea (possibly new camps are expected now since they have the money to afford that) and a final fee of several thousand dollars (or as much as a someone can afford).
Maum has hidden fees, and secret progression through "levels", and overall resembles cults like the Church of Scientology far too closely.
Despite the fact this kind of meditation has (an estimated) thousands of followers, there's very little media coverage. Usually Maum recruits new members through leafleting and tries to be as secret as possible. It is considered by many to be a cult, but unlike other "successful" cults, Maum Meditation attempts to be as quiet and secretive as possible.
To avoid people getting information about it, the cult is evolving; new centers are no longer called "Maum", nor do they reference "Maum" material, but they still keep the same (or a similar) level structure. Confirmation questions are changed to more easily identify who leaked information about the cult.
In a way similar to Buddhism, we are taught of a fake world. The progression is done through a series of mental exercises. Any question to a member of the cult regarding the content of the courses is answered in a negative way (even in a contradictory way). Hiding information to external people is seen by most as a joke and almost all people completing the first level are already engaged deeply in the cult.
Newcomers are told not to reveal meditation practice details to anyone, and the levels of "attachment" are similarly not disclosed to those not practising Maum.
If asked why secrecy is needed,
cultists helpers will tell you that you are still not ready for the truth, and that you cannot be influenced by the external world or the meditation will fail. The common explanation for everything is that "you have a dirty mind" and "you need to clean your mind".
While it may be true that someone might not understand advanced teachings without proper preparation (for example, in mathematics), that does not preclude the ability to at least say what said advanced teachings are. Algebra teachers aren't forbidden from describing what calculus is, and mentioning calculus to an algebra student doesn't destroy their algebra education!
It is much more likely that this secrecy is needed to circumvent natural defenses that everyone naturally has (skepticism, awareness, doubt) in order that events that occur later won't cause worry (e.g., more expensive advanced fees).
Methods and goals
“”Level 1: Discarding remembered thoughts (The level of knowing the Universe is one’s self)
Level 2: Discarding images of self and relationships (The level of knowing there are no [false] minds)
The eight levels that were described in 2005 were considerably less cultish than what has been described since 2018 because they did not explicitly include elimination of self and of personal relationships::269
“”Level 1: Knowing I'm the Universe
Level 2: Knowing I Don't Have a Mind
This does not mean that there were not cultish aspects to Maum in 2005, because there were (e.g., pressure not to leave the group, "Why Can't Those Who Leave Maum Mediation During Their Pursuit of the Truth Reach The Truth?").:163-164
One of the goals
cultists helpers will tell you about is to have free Maum Meditation for every person in the world; this is used as an excuse for monthly fees, however this could already have been achieved, so it is plainly a lie.
All they would need to teach meditation would be one book or web site, thus making the meditation free for everyone. However that would have the downside of unveiling the controversial techniques and at the same time removing separating the member's false wallet from their true wallet, which makes evident that such goal is in reality a lie. (Unless of course reaching the same progression requires usage of drugs and brainwashing, in which case a book may not be sufficient.)
Solipsistic blaming of the victim
As a rather bizarre belief concept, Woo Myung claims simultaneously that the world exists because of the self (solipsism), and that everything is one's own fault::110
“”When something goes wrong, people tend to blame it on others and resent them. All creation exists because I exist. Therefore, if we found the conditions by which everything came to be, we swould find that those conditions are our own faults that are within us.
Maum charges a monthly fee that may change according to which country it targets. In the US, it is from $80 to $200.
There are no statistics on how many people have been deceived by the cult; however they have enough funds to maintain a number of web sites, and enough money to pay rent for hundreds of centers around the world. They are accepted as a religion (providing some tax relief) in some countries and banned in other countries. They also try to use all free-to-use services in order to get more "sites" (Meetup, Wikipedia, Reddit).
It is not uncommon that a practitioner of Maum travels away from their family if their family does not also enter Maum, a common technique of cults. One Maum Meditation practitioner donated his house to the practice. New Maum centers no longer cause a high degree of abandonment, as members are now told to stay near their families and to make converts among their families and friends. This resembles the "sleeper cell" tactic, also used by some terrorists (of course people at the meditation centers are quite peaceful, and have nothing to do with terrorism). It is not uncommon that people lie to friends and acquaintances; they say they "left meditation centers" but at same time they continue to practice meditation without telling anyone or by trying to convince more friends. This is a big difference compared to other cults.
A minor note, why would something teaching truth be built around lies?
Have you ever been asked by an acquaintance or friend to do meditation with you and to lie to all your other friends and family by keeping this fact secret?
Seems drugs may be given to members (via air, or food). If you have ever fallen asleep in the center, or been unable to experience outside the centers the same experiences you had inside, then it is possible you have been given a slight amount of some drugs; which kind of drugs is not revealed, and no one has ever done an analysis of the centers or their foods. The only suspicious fact is that you are not able to have the same experiences outside their meditation centers; this is not for sure, but should be a big red flag.
People usually reject the idea of drugs because meditation is done in small groups and different people experience different effects. A first evidence seems to be that if there is some drug in the air, then everyone should feel the same effect and not about equally, but the effects of drugs depends on a variety of factors: gas concentration, time of exposure, etc. It does not mean necessarily that you are given drugs: certain mind states once reached have the same effect as drugs. However there are references to gas altering human perception even in ancient Greece. In particular certain Greek oracles who were exposed to major doses of natural gas behaved like they were in a trance, while people asking advice to Oracles was not exposed long enough (or were not near enough to the gas emission).
- Have you eaten or drunk something in the center before experiencing something outside the normal? - Have you slept in the center before experiencing something outside the normal? - Does your seat have removable panels / holes / pipes hidden? (can be easily hidden under a wood panel or inside a pillow). - Have you been alone in a room before someone else entered? - Have you been alone in a room for some time before experiencing something outside the normal?
If all the above questions have NO as answers, then your experience is just caused by your mind.
Woo Myung incorrectly stated in 2005 that he was awarded the "Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize by the United Nations International Association of Educators for World Peace" and that he was appointed as a "United Nations World Peace Ambassador".:4,11 These claims were later revised on Woo Myung's website stating that he received the "IAEWP Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize", While this may sound grandiose, the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP) that awarded the prize had no affiliation with Gandhi, and was just a minor (and now defunct) non-profit organization in the Alabama with some minor UN affiliation. The award certificates themselves are clearly from IAEWP and not from the UN. The IAEWP went kaput sometime in 2015. There is not any evidence that this "prize" is any more than a sheet of paper signed by the president and founder of IAEWP, Charles Mercieca, who stated:
“”The Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize given by our organization may not be a well-known award and many people are not familiar with it; but to us, this prize is meaningful. It is gratefully given to courageous persons who work for peace of the world. Not everyone can be awarded this prize.
Maum and Wikipedia
The Wikipedia page on Maum was locked from editing and banned due to continuous edits made by cultists and anti-cultists.
Recently (2015-2016) there have been attempts to create fake Wikipedia pages to legitimize the IAEWP prize. The changes are done mostly by the same authors, who claim to have just "accidentally" found a number of people who were awarded the prize. However, the cited individuals are all just pages created on Wikipedia; there are no independent sources that can confirm any of the prizes, indicating that effective attempts at media manipulation have already been made.
Right now there are attempts to create Wikipedia pages that are clearly advertisements for the cult.
Why would something important like a peace prize not be covered by important media channels? Because it is just a private organization? Of course there exist plenty of organizations that seek world peace (all covered by dozens of articles by important and independent media channels); maybe we should start looking at those organizations instead?
- Recent comments about maum meditation
- 5 pages forum discussion on CultEducation
- Meditation Life
- WOO MYUNG CAST
- Stockholm Maum Page
- USA Maum Page
- Meditazione Italia | Il sito uficiale
- The Great Master Woo Myung
- The Official Website of the Great Teacher Woo Myung
- Woo Myung is probably a pseudonym since his name in Korean, "우명" (Umyeong), translates as "famous".
- Time Line Woo Myung (archived from August 23, 2018).
- World Beyond World by Woo Myung (2005) Cham Publishing. ISBN 8987523195.
- Watch out for "Berkeley Meditation" on Telegraph. It's a Korean cult called Maum that solicits $150 monthly to buy into their BS philosophy. by u/ought14 Reddit.
- See the Wikipedia article on Korean shamanism.
- The Meditation Method Woo Myung (archived from August 23, 2018).
- Re: Maum Meditation, page 5 Cult Education Institute.
- Sung donates his house to Maum Meditation
- What Is ‘Self Balancing Food’? Wisdom's Webzine (archived from July 7, 2018).
- Wisdom's Webzine - Self Balancing Food (Jan 12, 2015) YouTube.
- Evidence of altered sentient state in ancient Greece due to natural gas.
- IAEWP Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize Awarded (2002) Woo Myung (archived from May 24, 2019).
- Who We Are International Association of Educators for World Peace (archived from April 14, 2015).
- International Association of Educators for World Peace (archived from July 2, 2015).
- Wikipedia talk on fake IAEWP page
- Spanish-language Maum Wikipedia page